The “ARE YOU READY?” cross elicits many reactions, not all of them encouraging, but the two questions that always seem to come up is: “Are you ready for what?” or “What does that mean?”
At this time of year you may want to answer, “Are you ready for the New Year ?” And if you did answer in that way, you’d miss the point of the “ARE YOU READY?” cross. Yes, those would be wimpy answers indeed.
No, the cross is meant to provoke this answer from the one who holds it: “Are you ready… to die?” Then there should be a follow-up question: “If you died today, would you go to Heaven or Hell?” You’d then, of course, take them through God’s standard of moral goodness, the 10 Commandments, and then tell them about the Savior.
But if all that is too much for you while standing on the street with a heavy cross, then my friend Paul Latour, of The Word Street Journal blog, has a solution: The “ARE YOU READY? Gospel tract. Here’s what it looks like:
Can you believe it? It’s been one year since we introduced these original tracts. Here’s the post from last year explaining what these are about. (Read to the end for a special free offer.)
No other church has these; you can only get ‘em at Hope Chapel: The new Teddy Trillion Gospel tract!
That’s right. Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th President (1901–1909), is the latest famous figure to grace the front side of these wildly popular money tracts. Of course, he’s famous for saying, “Speak softly, and carry a big…TRACT!!!
We have, after five years, nearly run out of our Million Dollar Bill Gospel tracts (we ordered 2 1/2 million). So, with permission from Living Waters, and with the skills of our church’s talented graphic artist, Mike Faye (adapting Dale Jackson’s work), we came up with this new one and ordered 2,026,000 of these.
Wanna know how to share your faith with those who cannot hear but are willing to listen?
Eric visited us down in Huntington Beach and asked how he could share his faith as a deaf person. He was somewhat frustrated over the fact that he couldn’t communicate the Good News to the hearing. Ray Comfort came up with this great idea: Flash cards! The next time we saw Eric, he was fully prepared.
“In that day the deaf will hear
the words of the scroll,
and out of gloom and darkness
the eyes of the blind will see.” Isaiah 29:18
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24
“I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.” John 5:25
Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy wasn’t shy about his faith Friday when he attributed the huge increase in sales at the fast food chain to the wisdom found in the teachings of Jesus.
Pointing to Matthew 5, 6, and 7, Cathy half-jokingly told the crowd of over 600 people that the Sermon on the Mount is a sermon on how to operate a Chick-fil-A restaurant and how to deal with disgruntled customers.
“So when we probed into this one scripture verse it led us to a radical service makeover within our organization. It became high touch and high tech all at the same time, but particularly high touch,” said Cathy at Biola University’s second annual Imagination Summit.
Jesus taught his followers to go the extra mile, to turn the other cheek when someone strikes them, and to repay someone that hurts them with kindness, the Christian business leader pointed out.
Following this example, Chick-fil-A restaurant employees have undergone “the largest etiquette training” program in the country in order to serve customers paying $6 a meal the same way as patrons of restaurants charging $25 a meal. Read the rest of this article here.
Perhaps you’ve heard by now about the seriously misguided efforts of some “Christian Thugs” who brought a pig’s head on a stick to the Dearborn Arab Int’l Festival 2012, and taunted American Muslims to the point that items were thrown at them.
Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not shake a pig’s head at the crowd in your name…?’
Here’s a brief video version of the incident. (Click here for a longer version that gives greater context but has some bad language from perturbed teenage festival goers. Turn off the sound when watching.)
Enough press has been given to these guys…that’s why I won’t mention them by name.
But did you here about this man, Tim Berends? He had a radically different approach in reaching out to the people at the Dearborn Festival, one I wholeheartedly endorse. Read on…
This year, the Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Michigan was again targeted by two types of Christians. And the news media picked up both stories. In one, Christian “protesters” charged in waving confronting signs and placards and carrying a pig’s head on a pole. The other was Tim Berends, a six-foot-tall guy wearing a warm smile and a I-(heart)-Muslims T-shirt.
While the “protesters” were ducking rocks and bottles, Tim quietly moved through the crowds handing out Chick tracts to booth keepers and spectators alike. By the end of the 3-day festival, that attracted over 300,000 attendees, he had salted 4000 copies of the tract, Unforgiven into the hands of mostly Muslim people.
The T-shirt, with “John 9:35-38” on the back, attracted much attention with some Muslims asking where they could get one. Tim would walk against the flow greeting people with a smile and the Arab greeting, “As-Salamu Alaykum (pronounced, aah suh laah mu aah lay kum) which means “peace be upon you” and hand them a tract. Often a family would approach and the father would ignore Tim but, behind her husband’s back, the wife would reach for the tract. (Please continue reading by clicking here.)
In our evangelism efforts we use the Ten Commandments as God’s standard when asking people if they have sinned against him or not. If they have, then they are guilty and deserve Hell. We then explain Christ’s sacrificial death on a cross and how if one trusts in his finished work and repents of their sin, one may be saved.
One of the questions we ask a “sinner” is: Have you ever misused God’s name? Misusing God’s name is blasphemy and God will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. Sadly, many Christians misuse his name and are not even aware that they are doing it by using phrases such as “Oh my G-d!” or texting OMG. But did you know there are other variations of blasphemy? (Click here to read a very insighful articleabout those variations, and read how I redeem “OMG!” after the video.)
If you must use some sort of exclamation to express disgust or extreme excitment or disappointment may I suggest an alternative to the the standard “Oh my G-d!”
Try this: “Oh my Ghandi!” It’s only one syllable longer and will definitely turn heads. This one, too, is great: “Oh my Buddha!” You’re sure to be the life of the party with that one. When visiting Hollywood, you can always try the unwieldy, but effective, “Oh my L. Ron Hubbard!”
If someone protests and asks you why you are using these names as exclamations, simply reply, “Because I do not want to misuse the name of my God. Have you ever misused God’s name?”
This is written by my Facebook friend, Larry Rosenbaum:
“And they all with one consent began to make excuse.” Luke 14:18
Two thousand years ago, eleven dedicated followers of the Lord Jesus Christ turned their world upside down with the message of God’s salvation. They and their converts faced horrible persecution, were imprisoned and thrown to lions, yet their faith spread throughout the world.
Today, there are millions of Christians throughout the world. Modern technology has given us the means of reaching multitudes for Jesus. Yet every year the percentage of the world’s population that has heard the gospel decreases.
Here in the United States, a large percentage of the population claims to be born again. The Constitution protects the rights of Christians to preach unhindered. Christians in the United States have more wealth and leisure time than ever before in the history of the world. Yet multitudes in this country, including many of the children of these Christians, are turning from Jesus Christ to Eastern religions, the occult, drugs, alcohol, and sexual immorality of all kinds.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, tens of thousands of Christians are attracted to Christian events. At the same time, a mere handful of Christians are witnessing on the streets. Millions of unbelievers go on in their sins, many of whom never hear a Christian witness. The voices of the political radicals, Eastern cults, and homosexuals are heard loudly in the streets and in the media. At the same time, the voice of the Christian is scarcely noticed.
What has happened? For one thing, the early church believed that when Jesus said to go into all the world and preach His Word, He meant what He said. Today, with Satan’s help, we have developed many sophisticated excuses not to preach the gospel. In this teaching, I want to examine some of these excuses in the light of God’s Word. (more…)
When it comes to proclaiming the truth that all have sinned by breaking God’s moral law and that the penalty is Hell, and the only way to Heaven is through Jesus, expect the firefight to begin. To mention that God is a God of wrath, a God of justice—as well as a God of love—really brings out the inner-terrorist in people.
But “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (Ephesians 6:12; 2 Corinthians 10:3-4)
That’s why we use militaristic terms in classifying the four levels of our evangelism teams:
1) Prayer Warriors: They speak to the commanding officer behind the lines.
2) Foot Soldiers: They do the hand-to-hand combat by distributing lots of tracts on the front lines.
3) Snipers: These are experts in one-to-one conversations. They target the sinner and nail him in the heart with the 10 Commandments, then finish him off with the Gospel.
4) Airmen: They carpet bomb by dropping their Gospel message wherever people are gathered by preaching on a box in the open air.
And we really don’t mind if you go AWOL because that means it’s: AWay Of Life!
On Sunday a small team and myself will be going to West Hollywood to share our faith at one of the largest Pride Parades in the country. I felt so compelled to do this that I asked to be excused from my regular pastoral duties on Sunday morning.
I am not necessarily looking forward to this event.
It is very difficult for a Christian to evangelize in this community because we are hated. And with good reason.
Christians have not shown a whole of love to those who are lesbian, gay, transgendered or bi-sexual. In fact, there is a whole contingent of “Sign Guys”—those who hold up banners and placards that focus solely on Judgment and Hell, using unloving, hateful terms toward homosexuals, shouting down curses and insults—who are actually barred from entering the parade, cordoned off and guarded by the police so they won’t get injured by angry people inflamed by their hate speech. (Read a Facebook dialogue I had with just such a Sign Guy by clicking here.)
Most of these “Christian Evangelists” feel it is their duty to rebuke these “sinners.” They cite many Old Testament examples of prophets chastising the profligate and use these accounts as basis for their “ministry”.
Here is one horribly egregious sample of what these types of rebuking prophet/evangelists do. In this case, what one misguided man “preached” to Rosie O’Donnell.
Christians are despised and rejected because the message that is typically shared in the gay community is full of venom and bile.
That’s why I’m called to go there: to show love, to speak truth… and to apologize on behalf of true Christians everywhere. I will tell them that I am sorry that the Christian community has not demonstrated tact, poise, reason and grace to those who are in dire need of a Savior.
Don’t get me wrong. I will talk about sin.
Inevitably, I will be asked: “Will God send me to Hell because I’m gay?”
My answer: “No one ever went to Hell because they are gay.”
Immediately, the person softens and I’m able to explain that they have sinned by breaking God’s ten Commandments. They will be judged for lying, stealing, looking with lust, hating or using God’s name as a cuss word. I warn that if they don’t change, they will end up in Hell because God is just. Then I remind them of God’s incredible grace, love and mercy as demonstrated on a cross. That if they repent and trust in Jesus, who suffered and died on their behalf, was buried for three days and rose again, they can be forgiven.
“So you see,” I’ll say, continuing the conversation, “it’s not about you being gay, it’s because you’ve sinned in these other ways. Homosexuality is a sin, it’s just not THE sin.”
When I speak to a gay person, I will be firm, but gentle—just like I am to everybody I talk to.
If I’m asked about whether gays should be married, I will not shrink back from the truth that marriage, as God created it, has always been between a man and a woman. We should never re-define a term to fit our culture’s preferences. Civil unions? Why not?
I will attempt to shake their hand, even give them a hug. I will ask them if they have ever met a Christian like me. Someone friendly, concerned, and gracious.
In my continuing series on how evangelism can go wrong (Oh! There are so many ways!), I now demonstrate how you can be made a laughing stock as your message is ignored. (This is a continuing series. To start at Part 1, click here.)
Most of the time when I share my faith with someone on the street they will listen to my entire presentation sometimes asking questions and occasionally challenging me. A lot of them will thank me, and less frequently, will even want to repent and put their trust in the Savior.
Then there are those times when I am cut off in mid-spiel, interrupted rudely, chastised sternly or abused. Then they walk away. What should an evangelist do? Here’s what I did at the Doo Dah Parade when a lady did just that: walked away. What would you have done? (Evangelism Gone Wrong is an ongoing series. To start at Part 1, click here. To go to Part 14,click here.)
This is a great article by Dr. Bob Gonzales, on when to stop sharing the Gospel with an unbeliever. In this case, the author finally called it quits on a couple of people who subscribed to a materialistic-evolutionary view of reality—much like the unbelievers who comment on this blog. The article ends with a heartfelt letter, and a tactful, gracious plea.
One of the marks of a Christian is a desire to share the good news of the life-transforming gospel with others. In the words of the apostles, “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). But what if a friend, fellow worker, schoolmate, or family member asks us to desist? Does there come a time when we should refrain from speaking to a person about Jesus and Christianity?
A few years ago, I sent John Piper’s booklet The Passion of Christ: Fifty Reasons Why He Came to Dieto several close friends and relatives. To my knowledge, most of them were not Christians. I had already shared the gospel with some. With others I had not–at least not in a more comprehensive way. I wanted to be able to face Jesus on Judgment Day with the knowledge that I had attempted to share the gospel with those who were close to me.
Disappointingly, one couple replied with a letter and some materials that made it clear they rejected Christianity, affirmed materialistic evolution, and wished me to relinquish my attempts at trying to convert them. They were polite. But they were also resolute. They didn’t believe in God, and they preferred that I give up any attempt in persuading them otherwise. Click here to read the rest.
The last several weeks we’ve been discussing whether it’s appropriate to urge an immediate decision when presenting the Gospel to an unbeliever. Is it right to “close the deal” when you sense that the person you’ve been speaking with understands the Gospel and is concerned about going to Hell?
In part two I wrote about how the famous 19th century evangelist, D. L. Moody, who presented the Gospel to over 100 million people by voice and the written word, urges an immediate decision.
Why such urgency? Why was it so important for Moody that a person profess Christ right away? Is his opinion applicable for today’s evangelist?
I think it is.
The same truth that caused Moody to urge an immediate decision for Christ back then is still true today: sudden death. Not so sudden death. Death in general—and a lost chance to witness.
It was a Sunday night in 1871 when Moody preached to a full house on this subject: “What then shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ?” At the end of his message he said, “I wish you would take this text home with you and turn it over in your minds during the week, and next Sabbath we will come to Calvary and the Cross, and we will decide what to do with Jesus of Nazareth.” His worship leader, Ira Sankey then sang this song:
Today the Savior calls For refuge fly The storm of justice falls And death is nigh
The sound of fire engines drowned out his voice as the Great Chicago Fire swept through the city driven along by a southwest wind of near hurricane force. The fire lasted from Sunday till Wednesday and destroyed Moody’s house and his church as well as a great portion of Chicago itself.
Twenty-two years after the Fire, Moody reflected on the message he spoke shortly before the Fire broke out: “I have never seen that congregation since, and I never will meet those people again until I meet them in another world. But I want to tell you of one lesson I learned that night, which I have never forgotten, and that is, when I preach, to press Christ upon the people then and there and try to bring them to a decision on the spot…I have asked God many times to forgive me for telling people that night to take a week to think it over.”
You’re out on the street witnessing and have just finished sharing the 10 Commandments with an unbeliever. The person now understands that because he has violated God’s Moral Law by lying, stealing, blaspheming, murdering—that’s what the Bible calls it when one hates or gets angry—and committing adultery—even looking with lust condemns you, according to Jesus—he will be found guilty before a Holy God on Judgment Day; when he dies he will end up in Hell. He clearly understands this horribly bad news because you’ve taken the time to share—in love—that he is condemned already because of his sin.
Before you launch into the good news ask this next question of the unbeliever : “Does that concern you?”
If he is not concerned that he is going to Hell, if he is a mocker or scoffer or a foolish time-consuming atheist who is just razzing you in your good faith effort to bring some light into his life, you are under no obligation to share Christ with him. If he isn’t concerned that he is soon to be facing the wrath of God, he won’t care about your Savior, and he will trample your pearls of the Gospel underfoot.
But if you sense that the person is truly concerned about his eternal damnation, then simply ask: “Do you know what God did for you so you wouldn’t have to go to Hell?” (more…)
Lately during really good witnessing encounters the question about what to do with someone who appears really remorseful over his or her sin has resurfaced for me. The other person who was witnessing with me took this as an opportunity to try to close the deal. Though this individual thankfully doesn’t subscribe to the sinner’s prayer nonsense, she wanted the person to pray a prayer of salvation from the heart. If the individual hesitated, she attempted to push him or her a little bit to go ahead and make a decision for Christ.
I’ve had trouble putting my finger on why this bothered me. Everything she was saying was technically true. Today is the day of salvation, and anyone can die at any time. However, it seemed she was coming off as a salesperson trying to convince a reluctant prospect.
Armed with special green St. Patrick’s Day tracts we will be hitting the Hermosa Beach Parade with a vengeance. Meet at a special time: 9:30amat Hope Chapel; then we will walk on down together—and that’s no blarney!
Hope Chapel is located at 2420 Pacific Coast Hwy, Hermosa Beach Ca. 90254. You may call me at 310-374-4673 x.121
I received a private comment from a concerned reader of this blog who supports street preaching. Here it is:
Steve, I found a comment on latimes.com about the street evangelism during the Rose Parade. (Read article here.) Just wanted to make you aware of it. Not sure if the poster is talking about your group. If it was another group, like Ruben Israel’s, I can see why someone might get upset. The sign guys are a little too brash.
Here’s a video of a three minute message I gave to the crowds at the Rose Parade. Judge for yourself if I’m too brash. Also, make sure you notice the audience’s response after I finished and determine if they thought I was too belligerent. After the video, read the L. A. Times comment and then my commentary.
Here’s the comment that my reader referred to:
I find it to be really lousy, slanted journalism that the LA Times is making an extra effort to point to the Occupy float as some kind of incident or controversy at the parade while at the same time you don’t mention AT ALL that there was a large group of right wing evangelical extremists marching up and down the parade route for HOURS before the parade harassing the crowd with hateful, threatening “Jesus is gonna get you” messages. They also reappeared immediately after the official Rose Parade (and before any Occupy people were seen were I was standing near the grandstands). Despite complaints, the police would not check to see if they had a permit to hold their own pre-parade and they were much more of a nuisance and of a controversy than the Occupy folks. Shame on you for ignoring this.
Here’s my response:
The Tournament of Roses Parade brings out every type of evangelist, quite literally, the good, the bad and the ugly. The photos to the left and right are great examples of the latter two descriptions. Not only do these types of people bring an imbalanced view of who God is, they promote false doctrine and ONLY ONE WAY. Of course, their one way is only through their organization. See for yourself at the 800HowTrue website. I reported on them in an article from 2009.
My reader mentioned Ruben Israel. The photo below (from his website), shows the type of message he and his group display.
I dialogued with Ruben a little over a year ago on Facebook discussing his style of evangelism with mine, then posted it to my blog with his permission. To see the marked difference between our methods, read my post called “Perspectives: Inside the Mind of a Radical Sign Guy.”
I suppose our group could be considered obnoxious though we try very hard to be winsome and appealing. We approach our task with good humor and a positive attitude. We also know that not everyone shares our views on eternity, so we attempt to be gracious. Very gracious.
So how should Christians respond to those who are not so nice in their evangelistic methods, or are out there with bad intentions and ulterior motives? It’s best to respond the way the apostle Paul did, when he heard about the foolishness that was being preached in Christ’s name while he was under arrest.
“It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” (Phillipians 1: 15-18)
What do you do when you run into a person who has asked “Jesus into his heart” butstill leads the life of Hitler?
How should a Christian respond to someone who says that they were born again at age three but their mug shot is on the post office wall?
How should a believer appropriately deal with a “cursing like a sailor” yet “Spirit-filled, sealed by the blood” follower who also owns a strip joint?
Simple. Don’t assume that they actually are believers.
Most likely they are false converts who believed that all they had to do was pray a “simple prayer” without any repentance. Or possibly, some well-intentioned disciples surrounded the poor pagan and “made” him “accept the Savior.”(more…)